Thursday, December 31, 2009

December in Review.

So much has happened over the past month. The Oregon Ducks won the Civil War game and clinched their Rose Bowl berth (and Rob got me yellow roses to celebrate--unfortunately, that photo didn't quite make it into the collages shown on this post). We decorated for Christmas, took time off from our regular homeschool schedule and did many Christmas-related activities. David's copywork/handwriting for the month has been scripture foretelling the birth of Jesus and has been scripture about the birth of our Savior. We have also read many different books together over the past month--right now, the boys and I are reading through A.A. Milne's Winne-the-Pooh. The weather seems to have gotten cooler (enough so that the boys found that they wanted to wear their Mama-knit hats to play outside, but not so cold that they had to wear more than a sweatshirt--we're becoming southern Texans, that's for sure when we want to bundle up when the temperatures hit 60). ;)

We have many batches of gingerbread pancakes for breakfast. Aidan has been my little helper in the kitchen. He has started putting the batter onto the griddle and has even flipped a few pancakes himself. He was a huge help in the kitchen when I baked all of the pieces for our gingerbread houses too and had a blast cutting various shapes (mostly men, though) out of the cookie dough.

The Daddy went to his annual conference that was held in Phoenix this year. When the Daddy is away, the rest of us will play (or else, we'll come up with a bunch of activities to keep us otherwise occupied!). We baked cookies, made gingerbread houses, went to the museum, made crafts with friends, watched Christmas movies, found out that our Polar Express DVD is MIA, and went to the park. That week was definitely busy, but we did have a lot of fun!
We have enjoyed being able to purchase fresh citrus from a local grove (that is maybe 3-5 minutes from our house!). The tangelos and navel oranges have been my favorites so far this season, and the prices are SO cheap! We just picked up an 18lb. bag of navel oranges for under $7! When our friends came down from Raleigh to spend Christmas with us, we took them over there. The kids hadn't seen oranges growing on trees before and thought that they were really pretty. They all enjoyed watching the orange juice machine squeeze the oranges and spit out the rinds at the grove store too!

I did a LOT of Christmas crafting this year. Next year, I need to remember to start making gifts for others earlier in the year. This past year, I began at the end of September...I just finished making the last gifts a couple of days ago...oops! The felt bird ornament is one that I made for my friend Stephanie. I finished those the day before she and the kids arrived.--phew! That was cutting it close!

Rob, the boys and I went to a student matinee showing of The Nutcracker ballet. The boys did really well and seemed to enjoy it. David got irritated with me when I forgot the names of the songs toward the end though. I promised him that I'll re-learn them so that I can tell him next time! I picked up a new wooden nutcracker for each of the boys that we gave them after the ballet to commemorate their first time going. The new nutcrackers have joined forces with the others in my collection. Aidan often lines them up in battle formations, in height order or however else he deems necessary when he feels the need to play with them. :) My little snowman nutcracker has often been left out because it doesn't look like the rest (sometimes he hides it behind the tallest nutcracker in my collection--it's quite hilarious!).

The week of Christmas, when we took our kids and the Howard kids to the park, we found Aidan making mulch-angels. Tessa and the others joined in on the fun too. I guess that when you don't get snow to play in, kids will find other ways to have their favorite winter fun! We also went down to Hidalgo for the Festival of Lights and had fun riding on the trolley through the town seeing the many beautiful light displays. It definitely helped put us more in the Christmas spirit. Steph, the kids and I went to IMAS, the children's museum, to play for an afternoon. The kids all had fun creating artwork out of felt, playing in the sand and water in the science lab, they got to hold Fancy Pants the tortoise and played for ages in the discovery zone with the water cycle play area. We all had a great time!

Rob took the kids swimming in our pool the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Only a few of the kids were actually brave enough to get in and swim in the cooler water, but they did have fun (and all talked about how funny it was getting to swim outdoors on Christmas Eve!). That evening, we went to our church for the Christmas Eve service--the music was done mariachi style and it was so awesome. The boys got to take communion for the first time--it was really special for Rob and I. Aidan had accepted Jesus into his heart on the 20th, so that has really been the best news of the entire month! :)

This past month has been really busy, but definitely full of blessing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Photos taken October 2009 at Camp Perry.

Seek for the beauty in your everyday.
This is something that has been a bit of a challenge for me since moving to the RGV. I tell myself, "It's not pretty down here--it's so flat!" I miss the rolling Appalachian Mountains and the Blue Ridge aflame in their fall glory (or truthfully, I miss them in any season). I miss the green. I miss fall--the smells and colors. I miss the newness of spring and the rebirth of flowers and the new life seen in fields I pass by. I miss the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Ocean. It's easy to see beauty in those areas. One is continually surrounded by it. Down here, it is not as easy to see it, but it is there, none-the-less.

There is beauty in the vivid colors of the kiskadees and the parrots I have seen flying by outside. There is beauty in the sunsets in the vast Texas sky. There is beauty seen in the butterflies, fluttering from flower to flower. The orange, grapefruit and lemons all turning their various hues in the local groves have their own special beauty (and the fresh squeezed lemonade I made last week was amazing too!). Even the cacti and the native mesquite trees have their own beauty. The beauty I'm finding isn't what I'm used to, but it is waiting for me to seek it out. It's a constant reminder of how varied God's creation is, and how amazing He is.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Adventures of Ruby, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

by David Crossler

Hi! My name is Ruby, the ruby-throated hummingbird. I live in Washington DC in the spring and summer. I like living in Washington DC, the capital of the USA. There are lots of trees and flowers that are so pretty. I live in the Washington Monument. It looks like a giant toothpick. I have a very, very good view of DC from my nest. In one direction, I can see the Lincoln Memorial, and in another, I can see the Jefferson Monument. And in yet another, I can see the Capital Building. It is a great place to live.

Right now, the month is October. It is time for me to migrate to the Gulf of Mexico, my winter home. I make this journey every year. It takes several weeks to get there. I don’t drive, swim, take an airplane or a train like people do. I fly! I am excited to go to my winter home every year. It is a very thrilling journey, and good because I am going to where the weather is warm, but all of that flying makes me tired!

My first stop on my journey is West Virginia, somewhere near Beckley. I saw the New River Gorge Bridge. I made it just in time for bridge day. There were people parachuting off of the bridge. I thought they were being silly. If people were meant to fly, they would be born with wings! The leaves on the trees in the mountains looked so pretty, I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. The colors were so magnificent. My next stop was in Tennessee, somewhere around Nashville. I heard different kinds of music. My favorite kind of music was the country music I heard played there. Some other places I stopped at along the way were: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and my last stop was Texas. My final destination was South Padre Island--my winter home at last.

I am excited to be at my winter home, and am also glad that I made it safely. I may be tired from all the flying, but there is good food to eat down here and the weather is warm. I think I will enjoy it down here. Maybe I will get to relax for once, or at least until I have to migrate north next spring.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Singing and Mixed-up Song Lyrics.

(the boys like dressing up in funny hats too)
My boys love to sing. For awhile, the D-man was singing 80s hits that he learned while playing Karaoke Revolution with us on our friends PS2 or when playing Rock Band with some other friends. Imagine, a 6-year-old belting out the lyrics to Eye of the Tiger and The Final Countdown without missing a beat. Then, this same child of mine learned Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer. He thought one day when we were picking him up from Awana that it was appropriate to sing that particular song almost at the top of his lungs. When we talked to him about the inappropriate nature of belting that song out at that particular place at that particular time, he said, "Well, why can't I sing that one in a church, it talks about praying?" Hmmm...let's just say an interesting conversation ensued after that. ;-)

While David may be dead on with lyrics to songs to the point where he gets really irritated whenever someone mixes up the words to the lyrics (um, namely Daddy), Aidan has a little more trouble. For instance, the boys started singing Days of Elijah during children's church a little over a month ago. Both of them LOVE this song and will belt it out at random (Aidan does most of the belting, mind you--for a little guy, he's got quite the set of pipes). One day when they were singing this and got to the "There's no God like Jehovah..." Aidan's version sounded a little more like: "There's no god like Sebulba." I'm thinking, how in the world did a Star Wars character from episode 1 make its way into this song? This was bordering a little bit on obsession (there's already LOTS of Star Wars talk and play going on here, do we really have to sing about it too?). Then, the next go-round it was: "There's no god like Je-boh-ba." David got a little irritated with this and told him (very loudly and matter-of-factly in his best bossy big brother tone of voice), "NO Aidan, it's JEHOVAH!" Well, after a few times of David's not exactly kind corrections and Rob's and my kinder attempts, he finally sings it correctly. And, if you're standing in their auditorium during children's church, you can pick out my adorable blue-eyed boy's voice singing that part at the top of his lungs, and it makes his mama and his daddy smile.

Another song Aidan has had mix-ups with is a song called Take it All. For the longest time, Rob and I couldn't figure out what he was trying to sing since it came out as: "Tippy Wong" or "Tippy Wall." David finally had to translate for us, and again instructed his little brother on the correct wording of the song (oh, D is so much his mother's son).

Thinking about Aidan's recent song lyric mix-ups made me think of some others. If I'm going to expose his stories, I guess that I'm going to have to expose my own. Unfortunately, I do not have the excuse of being 5 to hide behind since I was in high school when my song lyric faux pas was brought to light. Mom, Dustin and I were listening to the oldies station one day in the car when Secret Agent Man came on. When the chorus came on, my mom and brother started laughing when they heard me singing it as "Secret Asian Man." I tried to explain that it wasn't any different than Dustin's mistaking the words "A set time has come" for "Set down a skunk," but they weren't buying that explanation. I guess that family jokes have to start somewhere, right? But, rest assured that I'll never mess up on the chorus of that song again. ;)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cub Scouts Fall Party at the Park.

Our finished pumpkins--David wanted to show our VT Hokie pride. :) Since Aidan wasn't able to use the ghost design out of our carving book (we forgot to take tape to the park with us), he opted for a nice smiling jack-o-lantern with triangle eyes.

David helped me carve Aidan's pumpkin while Aidan was playing on the merry-go-round with a new friend he made at the park. The bottom photo is where Aidan is posing with his pumpkin after he helped me to design the face.

Bobbing for apples--Daddy was so proud of David for doing it properly and getting quite wet in the process AND don't forget gutting the pumpkin. David was a little grossed out over the feel of the seeds and stringy pulp (just look at his face!). He was better about it after Daddy told him that he was gutting the pumpkin--it became a game after that!

Rob taking the top off the pumpkin so we could take out the pumpkin guts and David was getting the carving tools out. The boys with their pumpkins by the front door after we got home from the park.

They mixed up the Tiger Cub Scouts and the Wolf Cub Scouts for a fun game of tug-of-war. The game started out being great fun for both boys, then David decided to give up right at the end. We had to talk to him about his attitude and how giving up wasn't doing his best (and being the "mean" mom that I am, I made him play again during the 2nd game with the caveat that he had to play with a better attitude and not give up the 2nd time around). ;) He did great then! Aidan had a blast getting to participate in the 1st tug-of-war match up. He was able to hold his ground pretty well even with wearing flip-flops. He opted to not play the 2nd round when the adults joined in, so he watched from the sidelines with Mama.

It may be hot down in these parts and not feel like fall, but we sure had fun at the Cub Scouts outing getting messy (some getting wet). We also enjoyed getting to meet other people who are on this scouting adventure alongside us.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Knitting: Sneak Peak

Isn't this color gorgeous? It's from Knit Picks Swish Bulky line: "Planetarium" and it's so BEAUTIFUL! This is part 1 of 3 for my mom's Christmas present. I was REALLY missing the support from my local yarn shop (LYS) back in the 'burg for this project. Thankfully, online help resources are readily available when you don't have a LYS in your new location. I had to start over on this particular item 3 different times due to my inability to read the directions correctly from the get go. Note to self: do not start a new knitting project that you have to pay close attention to before the kids are in bed or when you are beyond do so may end up with disastrous results! But, the final product turned out rather successfully.

Another thing on the needles is a hat for my brother made from the same ultra alpaca fiber I made his "Scarf Askew" from last fall. Once I had cast onto both projects, I had to laugh because there is a lot of cable work done for each--something I didn't notice when I picked out the patterns. Thank goodness that I really enjoy knitting cables. :) I have a couple of knitting patterns in my favorites list on Ravelry for mittens that I could make for Dustin too. Hmmm...I might have to see if I can find any more of his yarn online since I more than likely won't have enough left after finishing the hat. Oh, decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The last few weeks in pictures...(part 2)

Playing on the beach at South Padre Island--our first time being to the Gulf of Mexico. It was cold (for what we've been used to) and rainy, but we all had fun playing in the water, collecting shells while having the beach basically to ourselves.

We have a new Cub Scout in the house!

Learning about a rainbow, the letter 'R' and made a craft to review.

The boy lost 2 teeth--bringing the grand total to 6 teeth lost in the past 12 months.

The man of the house cleaning out the rain gutters. They work MUCH better now when a rain storm hits.

The last few weeks in pictures...(part 1)

Box day--Rob and the boys had fun opening our homeschool curriculum when it arrived.

Lounging on the slide at our favorite local park.

Working hard on a math assignment.

The first day of school--the boys left the house out of the back door, walked around to the front door, rang the doorbell and came in for their first day of school. Next year, I plan to put a special surprise in each of their backpacks since I wasn't organized enough to think of it this year.

Aidan and Hedwig, his felt finger puppet owl friend.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How Aidan Would Make an Apple Pie.

Aidan and I are currently doing a unit study on apples, Johnny Appleseed and Fall for homeschool, so of course, we are talking about things that you can make with delicious apples. We (um, mostly I) made applesauce last week, but after we read the book How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, apple pie has been on our minds. So much so that Aidan asked me to make some for dinner Saturday night. His asking me that led me to ask him how HE would make an apple pie, and this is what he said.

We would need 12 apples so we could make an apple pie. Then we would need to listen to instructions so we can make an apple pie.

We would need flour and ice cream (to make it white). If we had most of the right things, we could make it.
(I tried to ask him what else we'd need - he said, "It's in the 'structions, Mama."). We could shop at H.E.B. and Walmart to get the things we need.

We would have to bake our pie in the oven at 300 degrees for 2 hours. The pie will taste good and it will be cold because it will have a lot of ice cream in it.

Truly, I'm quite surprised that he didn't say that we needed to travel the world to find the ingredients like the girl in the story. ;)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fun Evening Outing at Schupp Park.

We really enjoyed the below-90 degree temperatures today, especially since it has been 100+ every other day this month since we have moved down here. And, since the weather was cooler today, we decided to take a break from our regular evening swim after dinner and drove to one of the city parks here in McAllen for a change of pace. The boys' bikes were loaded into the back of the car and Sydney was even able to join in on the family fun. The park hosts a really nice fitness trail that was packed with runners and walkers (and a few bicycling children too), and there are some really fun playground structures too! Next time, I'll have to remember to grab my camera. :) After we walked/rode bikes around the park, the boys tried climbing one of the mesquite trees before finally heading over to one of the play structures. This will be a place we will visit with frequency.

Settling in.

It has been ages since my last blog post, and a lot has happened since then. We packed our house, took a trip to Raleigh to visit friends, came back to do more packing and start saying our good-byes to all of our wonderful friends in Virginia and to the place we had called home for the last 4 years. We cleaned said house, loaded a moving truck, said more good-byes and then took off on a 3-day journey to southern Texas to begin a new season of our lives. After arriving in TX, we unloaded the truck, and I began my whirlwind of unpacking boxes. By the time we had been in the house for 1 week, about 90% of our things (in the house--not counting the garage boxes...) were unpacked, organized and put away. Whew...I get tired just thinking about everything that we did.

Since moving to TX, we have spent hours splashing and swimming in our swimming pool. We have dreamed and talked about things we'd like to improve in the house once it is ours (a new toilet in the master bathroom that actually flushes the first time would be nice). We've cleaned, seen lizards, explored our community a bit (had to find the grocery store and other essentials, of course!). We've played and I've done a LOT of baking too! Rob started teaching today. The boys and I started our new homeschool year last week, and we have finally found a church to call "home" in the valley. David has lost 2 teeth since moving here. Aidan has had a couple of "shiners" from his rough play. There are still things to do (um, like getting the car registered in TX and getting our TX drivers' licenses, oh, and signing on our house tomorrow too!!!). There are still things to dream and plan about, but it is nice having that feeling of being settled in and feeling a new sense of home.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Summer Reading

We like to read around here - a LOT! Below are some of the books that our crew is planning to read this summer:

David (these are only a few of the books he would like to read)-
*Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (we will read together)
*The Cooper Kids Adventure series by Frank Peretti
*Encyclopedia Brown
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
*Davy Crockett and the Alamo
*Cora Frear by Susan E. Goodman
*Tippy Lemmey
*Dan Frontier series
*Boxcar Children series
*Magic School Bus series
Magic Tree House Merlin Mission
*A Question of Yams

Aidan's list - (to be read repeatedly through the summer along with others)
Henry and Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant
Put Me in the Zoo
Ten Apples Up On Top
Froggy Plays Soccer
Dan Frontier series
our book about Texas

The Mama -
The Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe by Todd Wilson
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
*Karen Kingsbury's Take Two (after it is released)
I Saw the Angel in the Marble (I'm still plugging away on this one...)

The Papa -
Ted Dekker books (he's waiting for a couple to be released)
I Saw the Angel in the Marble

Since we are moving in a couple of months, I have packed a lot of my favorite books that I tend to pick up and look over over and over again, but will probably check out a few at the library between now and then. :) We'll probably add to this list periodically, so stay tuned and have a wonderful summer!

(* are books that we have read--David read so many others that I have lost count.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bits and Pieces of Birthday.

Important things for turning 7:
  • Presents - lots of LEGOS for the little builder. Star Wars and pirates (or anything "adventure" preferred).
  • Birthday banners made by Mama: 1 fabric, 1 out of her scrapbooking/stamping stash.
  • A birthday crown for the birthday boy - the robot is a must-have. The red 'D' makes it even better.
  • Izze soda, homemade pizza and Star Wars Clone Wars napkins--need we say more?
  • Special friends and family to celebrate the special day with.
  • 1 super-excited birthday boy.
  • A trip to the local bowling alley for some afternoon fun.
  • Homemade donuts for breakfast and homemade mac-n-cheese (the birthday boy's favorite) for dinner.

The cake will come a little bit later, as will a few photos from our afternoon bowling excursion. :) All in all, the birthday boy would say that his day has been pretty fine and dandy.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Tomorrow is Valentine's day and it's also the D-man's 7th birthday. Wow. Where has the time gone? Can my firstborn really and truly be turning 7 tomorrow?

I've nearly completed all of the preparations for his birthday (decor, gift wrapping, etc.). There is a birthday pennant banner that I just constructed from my scrapbooking/stamping stash--honey, I do use that stuff! :) that needs to be hung up. Birthday cake needs to be made, but at least it's starting to look a bit festive around here.

However, at the same time, I feel a little bit of envy toward my friends who are making all sorts of fun Valentine's day plans. The hearts, scavenger hunts, heart-shape pancakes (we'll be having homemade donuts though), special themed-lunches, decorating in the pink, white & red with hearts everywhere...sigh. There is a part of me who really misses getting to do that, but I guess that one major plus to choosing to celebrate David's birthday on his birth-date is that we don't have to fight the crowds when Rob and I go on our "Valentine's day" date. :) And, I do sit and remember that 'D' is my best Valentine's day present ever--a fact that he will freely tell anyone when they comment that his birthday is on this particular holiday.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Weekend Hike.

What better thing is there to do on a sunny Saturday afternoon in January than take a family hike up to a local waterfall. The boys asked if their buddy, Elliot, could come along too, so our party consisted of 2 adults, 2 6-year-old boys, 1 4-year-old boy and our puppy girl. The boys did pretty well on the hike--the way up was a bit more difficult (we almost thought that we might not make it all the way up when we hit the 1 mile marker); however, once we were closer to the water, the boys were reenergized for the rest of the journey. Granted, once we were closer to the water, Rob's blood pressure increased by about 20 points...Imagine, 3 boys and 1 dog constantly trying to get into the water, wanting to walk on the thin ice to grab other ice chunks to throw to Sydney, throwing rocks and nearly stepping in the water in the process...

Saturday truly was a beautiful day for hiking and I'm glad that we ventured out to enjoy God's beautiful creation. Plus, it was about the only chance we've had in awhile to see any sort of snow or ice. :)